Saturday, January 31, 2015

News We Can Use

Originally published at:

Your plants communicate with each other. These communication networks don't fully develop in a single year. That is why tilling as little as possible is so important. It is also important to pollinators.
Seed Saving
The seeds you save have instructions from their mother and some of them are pretty specific to your particular area. Please save seed.
Human Impact
Here is more evidence that our habits and causing massive changes we're only beginning to understand.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Fossil Fuel Free Clothes Drying

Looking for a way to dry your clothes and avoid the use of those nasty fossil fuels?  How about putting in a clothes line?  Your response might be, oh sure sounds good in the summer time, but tramping through the snow to turn my clothes into icicles is not my idea of a good time.  Then perhaps you might want to invest in an indoor collapsible clothes rack.  Not to name names, but I purchased one made in the USA this fall from the Ace Hardware Store on University Avenue in Blaine for under $40 and have been drying my clothes in doors for most of the winter.  I have fallen in love with this new convivial tool, and cut my greenhouse gas emissions apparently by 5-10% I think I read somewhere. 

For those who need to see the math before they’ll buy into this sales pitch, here’s an estimate of how much gas and money you can save by switching off the gas dryer and switching over to the clothes line.

Assuming I do three loads of laundry per week at one hour per load that amounts to 156 hours of gas dryer operation per year for my two person family.  I used the handy dandy spreadsheet available at this website to find out that my 22,000 BTU/Hour (that’s British Thermal Units for those who are interested) dryer would consume about 3,400 cubic feet of gas in one year of usage (at 1020 BTU/Hour per cubic feet of gas).    And then at 100 cubic feet per therm, we would be using a wopping 34 Therms per year.  My gas supplier Center Point Energy currently charges 73 cents per therm, so I can save a wopping  $25 per year by avoiding the dryer. 

So now you’re probably asking yourself - why would I want the hassle of hanging my clothes outside or on some wacky rack if all I will save is $25 per year, especially if I have to go out and spend $40 for in-indoor rack and lord knows how much to put a clothes line up?  If you’re asking yourself those questions, you might understand how in our current economic system where fossil fuels are cheap, getting off fossil fuels does not seem very cost effective. 

The reasons I dry my clothes fossil fuel free go beyond simple costs.  Using the spreadsheet I mentioned above, I calculated that using my gas dryer results in putting around 400 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air each year.  In the big picture this is a drop in the bucket, but at least it is one way I can reduce my emissions.  I find that hanging my clothes outside on nice days allows me the opportunity to spend more time outside, listening to the birds, getting some sun, and conversing with my neighbor as I hang my clothes.  It also gives my clothes that fresh air smell you can’t get from the clothes dryer.  I have read that clothes that are line dried last longer as they don’t turn into lint, and it brings up memories of the stories my mom used to tell me about hanging clothes on the line with her dad, many years ago.  And probably one of the biggest reason I like the line hanging methods is that it allows this procrastinator the opportunity to avoid that clothes-dryer wrinkly clothes look I get if I put off folding them as soon as the dryer shuts off.

So what experiences have you had with drying your clothes on the line?

Happy Trails?

From an article in today's Star Tribune on the condition of trails in the Metro Area.

"Growing demand for trails, by both nature lovers and commuters, has driven a building boom in Minnesota for more than two decades. Metro area counties and the state have added about 135 miles of paved trails in the past five years, rapidly expanding a network that crisscrosses the state and draws visitors year-round.
But as trails start to show their age, maintenance costs are mounting and officials are questioning whether enough planning and money has gone into preserving and connecting the sometimes disparate pathways."

So what trails do you use and what sort of shape are they in?  

Any Water Quality Project Ideas?

The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization in Minneapolis is offering grants of up to $3000 to organizations to promote water quality improvement projects or events in their area. See their webpage here for more information:

Since I think we all ultimately live in the Mississippi River Watershed, can you think of any projects we might be interested in pursuing that we could apply for some funding for?  Maybe build a rain garden in someone's yard or in some property along the river?  Something to promote local food production as a way reduce ag runoff?  Or maybe some sort of event we could host?  

Just a thought to think about.  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Climate Change Blues

"I have been vacillating between depression and acceptance of where we are, both as victims - fragile human beings – and as perpetrators: We are the species responsible for altering the climate system of the planet we inhabit to the point of possibly driving ourselves extinct, in addition to the 150-200 species we are already driving extinct." 

Dahr Jamail  From Mourning Our Planet

How do you feel?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Money is not happiness.

"Consumers have 10 times as many conversations at farmers' markets as they do at supermarkets—an order of magnitude difference. By itself, that's hardly life-changing, but it points at something that could be: living in an economy where you are participant as well as consumer, where you have a sense of who's in your universe and how it fits together"
Thanks to Kay for pointing out the article by Bill McKibben available here.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Some Transition Links

A quick follow up from our last meeting regarding web sites that might provide more information on topics related to our group can be found below.  I am sure there are others that other folks might be aware of and feel free to send an email to the group with your suggested additions.
Transition Longfellow (info on the Minneapolis Transition group)
I believe the Post Carbon Institute maintains the Resilience website, but I also follow their blog here: for all things peak oil, climate change, etc.
Permaculture Research Institute provide local training on permaculture
And for a more challenging take on all this stuff, lately I have been following John Michael Greer’s blog the Arch Druid Report here:

And for Facebook users, don’t forget our site called “Transition North Twin Cities” here: where some of us share links we might find useful.